Avoid Electrical Disasters and Hire an Electrician for Generator Installation

Updated March 18, 2022
A residential standby generator installed on a concrete pad
Photo: sphraner / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images


  • A standby generator supplies backup power to your home during prolonged power outages.

  • They are generally safe and reliable but can cause electrical damage to home appliances and systems if installed wrong.

  • An improperly installed standby generator may pose hazards, including the risk of electrical shocks and fires.

  • Hire a licensed electrician to install your generator to ensure safety and functionality.

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When the storm that’s raging outside suddenly plunges your home into darkness, you’ll want a way to plug in a pot of coffee, or at the very least, keep your thermostat running.

Having a standby generator permanently installed outside your home helps ensure that, no matter what, you and your family will always have the safe and reliable power you need. But setting up your backup generator isn’t just a matter of plug and go. There are electrical wires and a power supply to contend with. 

To keep your family safe, you don’t need the services of a generator installer; you need a licensed electrician.

How Standby Generators Work

Standby generators are often better performing, more reliable, and safer than their portable counterparts. Also referred to as automatic generators, standby home generators can run for far longer periods than portable generators and are capable of powering larger systems and appliances in your home, including your HVAC, refrigerators, and home medical equipment.

You’ll need to install them in a fixed location outside your home—usually on a concrete slab close to a natural gas, diesel, or gasoline fuel source. Though you can operate standby generators manually, the biggest perk is their capacity to detect a power outage, turn themselves on automatically, and power themselves off when they detect that power is restored.

This also means that you don’t have to worry about what kind of damage you’re going to come home to if your home loses power while you’re away! 

Proper Installation Requires the Work of a Pro

Technician checking outside generator
Photo: LifestyleVisuals / E+ / Getty Images

Standby generators are generally quite safe and reliable, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care during the installation process.

For example, you must choose the right generator size for your home. If your generator is too small to accommodate the amount of power your home consumes, you can overload the generator and damage the generator and other connected appliances and systems in your home. In some cases, overloading your generator can lead to a house fire. A licensed electrician can assess how much power your family consumes and can help you select the right size of generator for your home.

In addition to ensuring that your generator is the appropriate size, a licensed electrician will also have the expertise to install the appliance properly. They’ll wire the appliance into your home and safely connect it to your fuel source, protecting your home and family from potential hazards, such as electrical shocks and fires.

How Generators Are Installed

Standby generators can be quite large and heavy, often weighing as much as 600 pounds. So your retailer will likely need to deliver it, which may require heavy equipment. These are the basic steps for installing most automatic generators.

  • Ensure you have a level concrete pad secured with a gravel bed beneath that is large enough to accommodate the generator and at least 5 feet away from windows and doors.

  • Place the generator on a concrete pad and secure it with a minimum of 4 stainless steel bolts.

  • Have a licensed plumber connect the generator to its fuel source, such as a natural gas line.

  • Book a licensed electrician to connect the line-voltage cable to the generator.

  • Once all the connections are in place, the generator will automatically test itself, switching on every two weeks and running for 20 minutes at a time.

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